“You know, we wouldn’t still be friends if you couldn’t go deeper, if we couldn’t have serious conversations.”
I sat in the Philadelphia airport, and killed time. It’s strange being in an airport twice in one month, when it really hasn’t been an option for the past two years. I watched the people walk around, talk to one another, and consider food options. It was something I’d experienced many times, waiting for my plane, but then I felt something, something that I don’t experience all that much anymore: I wanted to write. I opened the notes app on my phone, and got to work. The paragraphs came fast and furiously, the way they do when inspiration strikes. I didn’t know what to call it, what the theme was, okay, I know what the theme was, but more than anything, I decided that it was a free write. Sometimes, a free right is what’s called for, akin to journaling. Sometimes, something has been rattling around your brain, and you just need to get it all out to be able to process your thoughts. Maybe in processing them, you’ll come to a conclusion that can help you move forward. Maybe that lightbulb will go off, and you’ll see life in a completely different way. A new perspective is a powerful thing.
Today, I went for a walk in my neighborhood. The weather was perfect, and I walked a familiar course. At the beginning of the pandemic, I walked what was more or less a rectangle almost every day. It passed a place where people normally congregate outside, and yet, during the pandemic, it was all but empty. I remember walking by it before the pandemic struck, was aware of the people having a fantastic time, but something about me felt off. I was spiraling. The long, slow descent was beginning, and I felt out of touch with the world, disjointed, something didn’t fit. I felt apart from it all, the way I did when I realized that something was wrong with my dad, when I knew my world was about to change forever. I won’t go too far down that path, I just know that at a certain point, I stopped taking that route, in favor of a more residential route that seemed a bit warmer and familiar(?), a little bit more homey. I like the comfort of houses/apartments. I’m not sure what that means, or maybe I’d just rather not dig into it.
I used to walk around my college campus, or at least near it. There was a neighborhood near there, also residential, and I would let myself get comfortably lost. Walking around campus could be nice, but there are times when I just wanted to be alone, when I didn’t want to chance an interaction with someone else. In the present moment, I’m much better around people than I’ve ever been. I’m less anxious and off-putting. I’m much kinder, and yet, there are still times when I want to walk alone, the way there are times when I need to be by myself. I’ve realized that this is my default setting, to be alone, and that what’s taken some work is to get comfortable around people, not only early in life, but right now, as we start to do things involving large crowds. When I was younger, my dad was the one that pushed me to make friends and socialize. Now, I’m the one that gives me that little nudge. He always knew when to push, and when to leave it alone.
Introvert or extrovert, I’ve never been sure. If I’m anything, I’m most likely an ambivert. I can be social around people, but of course, I love coming home a little bit early, throwing on a show I’ve seen one hundred times, and enjoying my own company as I relax. I can never go right to bed without a little of that time that I love. It’s something my dad told me about many years before, how you need some time to wind down before you call it a day.
It’s taken some work getting used to people again, but in some ways, my perspective has shifted, and I’m more comfortable than I have been in quite some time. I think we’ve all changed over the last two years. I think it would be impossible not to.
I remember last summer so vividly. The world opened up, and then closed back down. I’m glad I did what I needed to do, was able to get out and travel, reconnect with old friends, and enjoy being able to be out and about once again. Even went on a few dates. I traveled with people, and I also traveled alone. I’m more comfortable with the latter, even though it is nice to travel with a group. I’m owning my own life so much more, getting more and more comfortable with the fact that I am the one that creates my present and future. I’m okay with that responsibility, and I’m glad I’ve arrived at this point. As friends peel away, I’ve realized that I can’t base my plans off of anyone else. I have to make decisions based on my best interests and judgment (a little scary, given how many mistakes I’ve made). Wherever it is I’m going, I’m going alone. There’s a weird comfort in this way of thinking. I’m also not as hard on myself as I used to be, which is a huge victory.
It’s interesting to look at the differences between last summer and this coming summer. Last summer, I was lost. I hoped that the realizations from traveling would reveal my future, piece by piece. I wanted that guidance, and I also wanted to get over my breakup. Both of those things were achieved, and there’s something to be said for the way new experiences influence new ways of thinking. These experiences help us to consider things we didn’t before. Or maybe, just maybe, what traveling does is knock us out of our routine. We’ve stopped thinking in that repetitive fashion, and maybe that gives way to more inspiration, sudden bursts of creativity that don’t happen as much when we lock ourselves in a box. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good routine, but there’s something about going with the flow of life, and letting spontaneity take the wheel.
I came into last summer without a direction. I got a bunch of different pieces of information and guidance, and when the fall started, a new direction was there, became evident. I started on the path I am currently on, and I’m grateful to be where I am, as I approach the middle of the year, and reflect on how much I’ve grown. Last summer was amazing, and I have a feeling this year will also be amazing, just in a different way. With the job figured out, there’s one less thing occupying my brain, and I’m able to put my energy into different things that call to me, as I continue to chart the course for my future, knowing full well that I have next to no plan, and that any plan that I try to write out, that I’ll probably set fire to it shortly after writing it down.
Each day has been magnificent as of late, as I continue to move forward, to pick out things I want to improve on, but I also accept myself for who I am. Enjoy the short- and long-term. It’s all beautiful, and as much as I may want to speed things up, I know that that doesn’t work for me. If my past relationships have taught me anything, it’s that you can’t speed things up to get to the good part, as the good part only happens when you do the work beforehand, allow things to unfold naturally, and you don’t force anything. I’m getting there. There’s nothing for me to achieve or to chase, but rather, I’m just trying to make the most of each moment that I have, allowing it to sink in, and I’m doing my best not to cling to anything. Above all, I’m doing my best to be present, to let the moment wash over me, rather than pretending I’m somewhere else. Everything will happen when and if it’s meant to.
This summer will be different, although there’s no way it could be the same. Some plans have already fallen through, and yet, I’m not bothered. I think that’s the beauty of being flexible. I could be crushed, but instead, I’m doing my best to see every situation as an opportunity, an opportunity to choose again, and maybe go in another direction altogether. I’ll do my best to keep moving forward, to embrace this coming summer, and I’ll try not to waste any of it. A part of me wants to return to Portland, OR, as I didn’t feel that well last summer, and my enjoyment of it was hindered. I could, but I’ve already been three times, and as my therapist pointed out, I seem to go there when I’m at a crossroad. I can definitively say that I am not at a crossroad. I may move at some point, if only to shake things up, but I love where my life is going. I love it, even though I have no idea where it’ll take me. Bring on the warm weather. Thanks for reading.
One thought on “This Coming Summer”
A lovely recipe, Adam… Creating and blooming with your present moments and being open to the experiences that they will yield. Your mindset is radiant.
Choosing to go with the flow of life seems destined to beautifully unfold. Measurably because you are worthy.
Here’s to your summer filled with warmth.
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